Pressure is mounting on Cadbury’s parent company Mondelez International after a major consumer campaign targeting the big chocolate companies yesterday led to Nestle and Mars committing to tackle the hunger, poverty and inequality faced by the women who grow their cocoa.
The win has come just in time for Easter, when Australians are predicted to spend more than $3 billion on chocolate.
Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said that after more than 60,000 people globally signed petitions and took action urging chocolate companies to do the right thing, Mars and Nestle made commitments to begin to tackle the inequality that saw women cocoa farmers paid less than half as much as their male counterparts.
Dr Szoke said in spite of consumer pressure, Mondelez International, which controls 15 per cent of the global chocolate market, had yet to follow suit.
“People rushing into stores this week to stock up on Cadbury Easter bunnies and eggs for their loved ones should know the company has so far ignored the women cocoa farmers and consumers around the globe who are calling for change,” Dr Szoke said.
“Mars and Nestle have shown the farmers on which they rely, their customers and the rest of the food industry that they care about conditions such as low pay, discrimination and unequal opportunity faced by the women their supply chains.
“Gender discrimination is a major cause of global hunger, poverty and inequality. Most cocoa farmers live in poverty and have trouble feeding their families, leading to child labour and hunger. Malnutrition among children living in cocoa-growing regions is rampant.
“Oxfam applauds Mars’ and Nestle’s leadership in making commitments to tackle this injustice, and we will continue to hold both companies to account and expect them to keep their promises.
“We now call on Mondelez to address its impacts on hunger and poverty. Executives at the company should ask themselves if they are truly doing enough. Consumers will apply greater pressure if Mondelez continues to stand back and let its competitors lead the way.”
Among Mars and Nestle’s commitments are: conducting impact assessments on women in their cocoa supply chains in order to understand and show how women are faring; establishing an action plan within a year’s time that will address issues raised by the assessments and lead to the improvement of poor conditions; work to sign on to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, and engaging with other powerful players in the cocoa industry to develop sector-wide programs to address gender inequality.
Further information and the petition is available at http://www.oxfam.org.au/behindthebrands
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